In Steve Poos-Benson’s Christians Without Borders post in September 2013, Steve says, “I’m grounded in the teachings of Jesus. The teachings from the scriptures are a north star for my heart. However, I refuse to be defined by the popular notion of Christianity. ‘Christian: Close minded, judgmental, anti GLBT, anti abortion, anti world religions, anti anything they think the Bible says is true, bible thumping, bull horn blaring, I might love you, but I hate your sin. I’ll pray that you’ll accept my Jesus, if not, you’re going to hell.’
This definition makes me gag.”
So which teachings of Jesus is he grounded in? Based on his sermons over the past few years it appears that he is only grounded in a few cherry-picked verses that fit his worldview. Here is a small sampling of some teachings of Jesus that he seems to have skipped over:
1) John 3:14-18—Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus and says:
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God so loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”
First, Steve teaches that Jesus is NOT the One and Only Son of God. He has taught that Jesus is just one of many sons or masters of God. He teaches that Krishna, Buddha and others are also masters and are equal with Jesus.
Second, he says that the people who pray for people to accept their Jesus, if not, you are going to hell makes him gag. This is one of Jesus’ teachings. The same Jesus that Steve says he is grounded in. John 3 says this, “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”
I know, I know, John didn’t really write this book and neither did the other gospel writers because they were all illiterate, according to Steve. His only proof of this is that “most people were illiterate back then.” He also says that these books were written many years after Jesus’ death and they didn’t really remember the correct details and they added in their own biases based on the audiences they were writing to. If so, then all of the gospels should be thrown out. The Sermon on the Mount, loving your neighbor, everything. Throw it all out because it is all hogwash, except of course those verses that fit into your own personal worldview. The Bible is a buffet after all. Take a little of this, a lot of that, skip the salad bar and meat slicing station, and move ahead to the dessert table. Perhaps then we should throw out the writings of Plato, Hippocrates, and many other ancient writers whose writings we accept but are, in some cases a thousand years after they lived.
“It must be said that the amount of time between the original composition and the next surviving manuscript is far less for the New Testament than for any other work in Greek literature…Although there are certainly differences in many of the New Testament manuscripts, not one fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading.” (David Dockery, Foundations for Biblical Interpretation, 1994).
For example: Homer’s Iliad was written in 800 B.C. and the earliest copies were made in 400 B.C. The number of copies is 643.
Plato wrote his works in 400 B.C. and the earliest copies were made in A.D. 900. Only 7 copies were made.
Caesar wrote Gallic Wars in 100-44 B.C. and the earliest copies were made in A.D. 900. Only 10 copies were made.
The New Testament was written in A.D. 50-100 and the earliest copies were made in A.D. 114-325. The number of copies is 5366.
2) John 4:25-26—Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that the Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). When He comes, He will explain everything to us.’ ‘I am He,’ Jesus told her, ‘the One speaking to you.’”
Jesus claims to be the Messiah in Scripture. Steve has taught that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah.
John 5:38-40—Jesus is speaking to the Jews that are persecuting Him: “You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent.”
Does Steve misunderstand I Cor 2:14 when it says: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
The verse in John 5 states that a person that doesn’t believe in the One God sent (Jesus) doesn’t have the word living in him. Pastor Steve has made it very clear that he doesn’t need a savior; he doesn’t believe that Jesus is THE Son of God and that He is equal with God; he doesn’t believe that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead; and he believes that Jesus was just an illiterate, enlightened man (I don’t know how you can be illiterate AND enlightened, but whatever). John 8:23-24 says, “You are from below,” He told them, “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
John 6:29 says, “Jesus replied, ‘This is the work of God—that you believe in the One He has sent.”
John 6:40 says, “For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
3) John 8:42-47—In this passage, Jesus asks the Jews “Who among you can convict me of sin? If I tell you the truth, why don’t you believe Me? The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.” Pastor Steve and Justin have tried to point out at times that both Jesus and God are not perfect and that they fail and even sin.
Beware of anyone who claims to be grounded in the teachings of Jesus but reject the ones that don’t fit in with their worldview.
I John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Pastor Steve has said multiple times that you shouldn’t believe everything he says. THAT is good advice.
Jesus said multiple times that He is the Son of God and that through Him you can be saved. If you don’t agree with that then throw out everything else He says because then He is a liar. Then call yourself a Buddhist or something else because Jesus ISN’T bigger than Christianity. He IS Christianity.
If you study the Bible as a whole and use scripture to prove scripture (not commentaries or books written by theologians), you would see that the Bible’s reliability is grounded in the fact that from cover to cover, it relentlessly, ruthlessly, points us to Jesus Christ. That from the Genesis to the Revelation, the Bible is unashamedly, Christian! I will write more about seeing Jesus Christ all through scripture in another post.
I Peter 2 refers to Jesus as the precious cornerstone for God’s spiritual house and that He was rejected by men. Verse 8 says “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” To combine other religions’ teachings about Jesus that actually contradict who Jesus says He is to no longer have Christianity but something completely different. And then you can no longer say you are grounded in Jesus’ teachings.
In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.